Ian has set up the first Bush Regeneration activities for volunteers in 1987, leading to the first, full week-long Bush regeneration tour in 1995; and he helped establish The Friends of Lord Howe Island in 2001 and now with the Friends runs three to six bush regeneration tours each year. For some research projects on the flora, see the pdfs here.
Ian has been keeping records of bird sightings on Lord Howe Island since the 1980s and has been involved in a number of seabird studies – on Masked boobies, Black-winged petrels and Little Shearwaters. Ian was the first to record Black Noddies and Little shearwaters breeding on Lord Howe Island for the first time in 1990; this followed removal of feral and domestic cats from the island in the early 1980s.
Current Conservation issues
Impact of Plastic on Seabirds of Lord Howe Island
In 2000 Ian began to notice that something was not right in the Flesh footed shearwater (Muttonbird) colonies on Lord Howe Island. He was finding skeletons of these iconic birds with ribcages full of plastic. Raising awareness through public lectures and magazine stories since then has been a passion. In 2005, with other researchers from the then NSW Department of Environment, he carried out the first science research to establish how widespread the issue was for Flesh Footed shearwaters. In that year 79 percent of FFS chicks contained some plastic. Ian is continuing this research each year with Dr. Jennifer Lavers to monitor the issue. Keep following this page for updates.
Rodent Eradication for Lord Howe Island
Mice arrived on Lord Howe Island in the 1850s, and rats got ashore from a shipwreck in 1918. These introduced animals are the biggest threat to biodiversity on islands worldwide and have wreaked havoc on Lord Howe Island with the loss of five land bird species, two plant species and a number of invertebrate animals. The predation by rodents on our flora and fauna continues each and every night.
In 2009 a draft Rodent Eradication plan was drawn up for Lord Howe Island, based on sound science and experience of over 300 island eradications to that date. Funding from the State and Federal government has now been provided and the LHI Board is working towards an eradication in August 2015. The draft plan details the steps needed to successfully carry out this project, while protecting the people, wildlife and animals on the island.
When completed this will be the most significant conservation project ever carried out on the Island, and will take the threat off all off our species of flora and fauna. Without the eradication there will be continuing predation on plants, insects, lizards birds and biodiversity will be depleted. Keep following this page for updates.
Mice eating an Albatross chick, on Gough Island
Rats eating palm seeds
The Lord Howe Island Board Environmental Unit is committed to a weed eradication program, which means total eradication of some alien plant species, not just control.
The State and Federal governments assist with funding for staff and contractors to carry out this vital work. Commencing in a systematic way in 2004, staff from the LHI Board have carried out weed mapping, development of weed strategies, and plant importation policies to protect the Island’s unique flora. In recent years, the worst of the weeds have been treated, funding is now provided for contract abseilers to search remote high cliffs, and helicopters to winch workers into very remote areas that may take four hours walking each way- the only way to effectively deal with the weeds in these areas. Keep following this page for updates.
The LHI Board and The Friends of Lord Howe Island have volunteer programs where members of the public can assist with flora conservation on the island.